Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation

Penguin Pr. Sept. 2017. 352p. ed. by . ISBN 9780143131038. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781524704827. SOC SCI
In this collection of essays, stories, and poems from some of today's most influential writers, Freeman (How To Read a Novelist) provides an examination of the social structure of the United States. Considered are issues such as homelessness, income disparity, racism, and the politics of immigration. Particularly striking is an assessment of the homeless crisis by novelist Karen Russell, which questions the compassion of our society toward those in need. A haunting tale by author Anthony Doerr about finding a man asleep in a car in his driveway is a soul-searching account of whom we fear and why. Journalist Sarah Smarsh writes a disturbing report of how the purchasing of plasma from the marginalized has become a billion dollar high-priced pharmaceuticals industry. Several works address the plight of immigrants and minorities, including an unsettling work by poet Natalie Diaz, which considers the high death rate of Native Americans owing to violence.
VERDICT Although at times heavy-going, these carefully selected pieces offer a thought-provoking compilation that one will consider long after turning the last page.
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